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What Do You Do with Unwanted Medical Items?

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Reading, Pennsylvania.

By Wendy Kerschner on Reading Eagle [Jan 12, 2020]

If you’ve ever been a new parent, or in the home of new parents, you will recall the days when the house was happily filled with new baby equipment.

No doubt it included strollers, bouncers, activity centers, swings and other gadgets that new parents tend to accumulate. Many times those items eventually get sold or passed on to other eager young families in need.

As we age, this scenario repeats itself, just now with medical devices and equipment. But there's one big difference: Who wants it? What do we do with the adult medical items and equipment when it is no longer needed?

A friend of mine recently contacted me with this exact scenario: “I have a few things from my mom that I would love to donate. Do you know anyone that could use a walker, a gripper for getting in /out of the shower, a shower chair and a cane?”

This is a common situation for many families. Perhaps a family member has recovered or passed, and the items are no longer needed. Sometimes the equipment is barely used and it seems wasteful to set it out for trash, but what do you do with this stuff?

Thankfully, there are some local nonprofit and Berks County organizations that will gladly accept donations of unneeded medical equipment, unused adult protective briefs and unwanted medications.

For donation of medical equipment, the Shillington & Amity Lions Clubs are the answer. As part of their service to the community, they maintain an inventory of donated medical equipment that is available for loan to anyone in need, regardless of income. According to their website at, they accept donations of wheelchairs (regular and wide), electric scooters, canes, walkers, shower chairs, reach sticks, crutches (aluminum only), shower seats, transfer chairs, bedside commodes, hospital beds and other miscellaneous items.

Keep in mind that some medical equipment provided through hospice services, such as a hospital bed and mattress, are on loan through a durable medical equipment, or DME, provider. Arrangements for those items to be retrieved by the original medical equipment provider will be scheduled within 24 hours when no longer needed.

Some families may have leftover, opened or unopened, packs of adult protective briefs, such as the popular brand “Depends,” These items may have been purchased by the family or were left over at the conclusion of hospice services. Opportunity House will gladly accept donations of unused adult protective briefs.

As for medications, they should not be reused, donated, recycled, given to another family member or flushed down the toilet. Unused medications provided by a hospice provider will be disposed of according to state guidelines and state law with a hospice nurse and family member present. For all other unwanted medications, they should be discarded at your local police department.

Twenty-nine police stations throughout Berks County provide a medication dropbox year-round for safe disposal of unwanted, unneeded and expired medications. The medication drop boxes look similar to a U.S. Postal Service freestanding mailbox, with an open door to collect medications, but once dropped inside, they are secure. Medications can be in any of the following forms: tablet, liquid, ointment, inhaler, powder or patch. The discarded medications are then retrieved by Berks County district attorney office detectives, inventoried and incinerated at the discretion of the attorney’s office and the solid-waste authority.